UW-Madison: UW-Madison Students Earn High Marks In Business Plan Competitions

CONTACT: Rebecca Smith, (608) 770-1039

MADISON – University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business students and alumni recently placed among the top finalists in two business plan competitions. The finalists developed innovative plans for technology-based companies as well as businesses targeting baby boomers.

Kristin Kent, who received her MBA in brand management from the UW-Madison School of Business in May, is one of 20 semifinalists in the Boomer Business Plan Competition in Santa Clara, Calif. Kent developed Sofiavella, a lingerie company aimed at women age 45 and up. The stylish sleepwear is designed to help women embrace “the passionate side of their life.” Kent got the concept from her mother, who claimed there was no lingerie for her. Kent used this inspiration to create a plan that would tap into the baby boomer market with $2.5 trillion in spending power. Kent competed against 75 other business plans from five countries around the world.

The UW-Madison School of Business also saw five finalists in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Competition. This regional competition had more than 180 entries and 27 finalists. Recent MBA graduate in entrepreneurship Brent Newport’s plan, GetIPIC, guaranteed consumer privacy and protection from identity theft while engaging in ecommerce. It won first place in the information technology category of the competition.

Undergraduate business student Benjamin Collier took first place in the advances manufacturing category with Plasma Devices. Entrepreneurship alumna Heather Hilleren, working with GreenLeaf Market, which promotes more effective linkages between organic producers and grocers, took second place in the business services category.

Alumnus Tony Escarcega, working with Ratio Inc., took third place in the life sciences category with a firm that will generate a device to deliver large-molecule drugs such as insulin. Entrepreneurship student Tom Godfrey was a finalist in the competition, in a cross-campus project featuring a novel food product. Newport, Hilleren, Escarcega and Godfrey are alumni or students of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship MBA program, which also has provided investment funding for Escarcega’s firm through its Weinert Ventures Fund.

Newport and Godfrey were chosen to participate in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Competition through their outstanding work in UW-Madison’s own business plan competition, the G. Steven Burrill Technology Business Plan Competition. More than a dozen students who have participated in the Burrill Competition have gone on to start their own companies in recent years.

“Entrepreneurship leads to innovation – it answers questions and provides solutions,” says Anne Miner, School of Business professor and director of the Burrill competition. “This event provides students the opportunity to come together and create answers to society’s most challenging problems.”

To learn more about technology business plan competitions at UW-Madison, visit http://www.bus.wisc.edu/burrill.